Deputy pleads not guilty after indictment in fatal Lake Elmo shooting
STILLWATER, Minn. (FOX 9) - A Washington County Sheriff's Deputy pleaded not guilty Wednesday after he was indicted for second-degree manslaughter in the 2018 shooting of a 23-year-old.
Deputy Brian Krook, 31, is the defendant in the indictment that alleges he “caused the death of Benjamin William Evans by culpable negligence,” on April 12, 2018 in Lake Elmo, Minn. when he and other deputies responded to a report of a man with a handgun making suicidal threats.
The indictment says Krook “created an unreasonable risk and consciously took the chance of causing death or great bodily harm to another.”
In a statement, Krook's attorney said he is "confident that after all the facts are presented at trial Deputy Krook will be completely exonerated."
Krook was indicted Friday, one day after the Ramsey County Attorney's Office convened a grand jury to review the case. The indictment was unsealed by a judge Wednesday.
In a statement, Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry said he was made aware the indictment was unsealed Tuesday and said he is “deeply saddened by the events of April 12th, 2018.”
“The loss of life in any call we respond to is never the desired outcome, though I am proud that we have men and women that are willing to put their lives on the line every day to protect our citizens. In this tragic case, we have a grieving family and a grieving Sheriff’s Office. Any further information or specifics about this case will be released from the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. As this process unfolds, it is important to keep the family of Mr. Evans and Deputy Krook in our thoughts,” Starry said.
Moving forward Ramsey County will be handling the case.
Krook's attorney responds
In a statement Wednesday, Krook's attorney said domestic disputes can be "challenging" and "dangerous" situations for offficers and that Krook and his colleagues, "encountered an armed, suicidal, emotionally distrubed man who refused many commands to put his weapon down."
Here is the full statement:
I represent Brian Krook who has served Washington County and its residents with honor and distinction for almost 10 years.
On behalf of my client, I offer condolences to the family and friends of Benjamin Evans, who died tragically on April 13, 2018.
Peace Officers receive extensive training on the use of deadly force. That training begins in school and at the police academy. Use of force training continues throughout every law enforcement officer’s career.
No law enforcement officer ever wants to use deadly force. Yet the potential use of deadly force is an essential part of their job description. On April 13, 2018 Deputy Krook was compelled to follow his training and use deadly force.
Mental health crises arising from domestic disputes are the most challenging and dangerous situations a police officer can face. Deputy Krook was faced with just such a situation on April 13, 2018. He and his fellow officers encountered an armed, suicidal, emotionally disturbed man who refused many commands to put his weapon down. When that young man’s actions placed the lives of Deputy Krook and his fellow law enforcement officers in danger, Deputy Krook had no choice but to follow his training and use deadly force.
I am confident that after all the facts are presented at trial Deputy Krook will be completely exonerated.
The police officer's union released the following statement:
Sean Gormley, executive director of Law Enforcement Labor Services (LELS), and Brian Peters, executive director of the Minnesota Police & Peace Officers Association (MPPOA) released the following statement regarding the indictment of Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Krook on 2nd degree manslaughter: “Any critical law enforcement incident that ends in a loss of life is truly a tragedy. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Benjamin Evans. No officer ever wants to be put in a position to have to make difficult decisions under stressful, crisis situations. Mental health crises are among the most challenging scenarios our police officers face on a regular basis. Brian Krook is a decorated, veteran law enforcement officer who has served Washington County with distinction for several years. There are still many facts of this case that must be considered, and Deputy Krook’s right to due process is our top priority. In the meantime, we caution against a making a rush to judgement until all the facts are known.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.